Posted by: Jack Henry | March 14, 2023

Editor’s Corner: Adages

Good morning, readers!

I received an email from one of you a few months ago, asking me for additional information on several terms, such as adage, idiom, fable, and others. You wanted to know if these terms could be used as synonyms in some cases, and what you might call these things as a group. As a group, I’m going to lump them together as “literary terms.” Now for the hard part: defining each term and providing examples. Here are the terms I’ll cover over the next few weeks:

  • adage
  • allegory
  • aphorism
  • fable
  • idiom
  • maxim
  • parable
  • proverb

I’ve listed them alphabetically, but since some of them are so similar to each other, I may skip ahead or backtrack when I get to certain definitions. Hold on to your hats! We’re going for a ride!

I’ll start with the word adage. An adage is a saying that typically embodies a common observation. According to, it is a “wise saying that, over time, becomes widely accepted as a general truth.” Adages are sometimes described as a short proverb. Our first examples of adages are from Aesop’s Fables:

  • Things are not always what they seem.
  • Appearances often are deceiving.
  • Familiarity breeds contempt.
  • Slow and steady wins the race.

Another good resource for adages is the bible. Here are a few from the website:

  • A leopard cannot change his spots.
  • This is nothing more than a drop in the bucket.
  • There is no peace for the wicked.
  • Pride goes before a fall.
  • A soft answer turns away wrath.
  • The truth shall set you free.

Next week, we’ll discuss allegories!

Kara Church | Technical Editor, Advisory | Technical Publications

Pronouns: she/her | Call via Teams |

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